NSW players say Laurie Daley has developed a hard-nosed streak ahead of the State of Origin series opener next week.
Laurie Daley’s new hard-nosed approach to the State of Origin opener has been given the thumbs up from his NSW players as the Blues plot a first win in a live game in Brisbane for nine years.
After going down by two points in last year’s decider in Sydney, Daley took it upon himself to take a more hands-on approach with his players in his second year at the helm.
He dispensed with the services of Jim Dymock and Trent Barrett, allowing him and assistant coach Matt Parish more time to get their message across on the training ground.
And according to Blues prop James Tamou, the players are more than comfortable with the new regime.
“The difference for me is that he’s become more hard-nosed and the boys are buying into it and taking it on board,” Tamou said.
Daley’s decision to name his side eight days before the game instead of the usual 10, has resulted in a more intense start to the week and Tamou says the players have noticed a fierce determination from their coach to finally end the state’s nine-year series drought.
“He’s definitely more focused; you can see it in his eyes,” he said.
“Last year, we had Jimmy and Trent around and Loz was just talking when need be.
“But this year, he’s really taken it on board and telling blokes where they are going wrong and to pull their head in.
“Last year, he was in the background a bit. From this time last year, we are definitely a step up.”
Blues five-eighth Josh Reynolds has also welcomed the new Daley approach and says he and halfback Trent Hodkinson are benefiting massively from the Canberra great’s experience.
“He’s knuckling down on a few things he thought were not up to scratch last year,” Reynolds said.
“He’s really letting us know. But off the field, he is great. He is cruisy, laidback and really easy to talk to.
“Me and Trent have been able to ask him a question and he will say yes or no. Communication has been great.”
Reynolds also revealed Daley ordered the inexperienced pair to address the team during video sessions so they felt more comfortable in steering them around the park on Wednesday.
“It is a bit different, but it’s good I think,” he said.
“When he told me and Trent, it was a bit like ‘wow, we feel like school teachers’.
Reynolds admitted it was a daunting telling a side full of experienced representative players what to do before a ball had been kicked.
But the Canterbury five-eighth says it’s proved to be an invaluable exercise ahead of the red-hot atmosphere that will greet them at Suncorp Stadium.
“It’s just about what we are going to do on the field and how we’re going to run it,” he said.
“You have to talk to guys that have played so many Origin games and won premierships and there’s me and Trent who are here for the first time as the halves.
“But we’ve got our heads around it and it feels good. We’ve done it a few times now, feel very confident about it and know the boys are listening.”